|9-22-16 Education in the News|
GovNetNJ--JASEY NAMED DEPUTY SPEAKER OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NJ Spotlight--Fine Print: State Auditor Calls Out ‘Convoluted’ Allotting of School Aid
Auditor confirms Christie administration’s underfunding — and overfunding — of school districts
What it is: State Auditor Stephen Eells, whose office is an arm of the state Legislature, yesterday released a report on the distribution of state aid over the last two years under Gov. Chris Christie. The report detailed the levels of state funding to the New Jersey’s 500-plus districts and how they have matched — or not matched — the state’s School Funding Reform Act. The report concluded that although the Christie administration and Legislature had properly followed state budgeting rules, as required, the mandates of the school funding law had not been met.
According to the Eells report, “The SFRA formula aid has not been distributed per statute since fiscal year 2009. … Through fiscal year 2014, the methods followed for the annual calculations blended past and current data from multiple years to determine funding, making the distribution convoluted. During fiscal years 2015 and 2016, no data from either year was applied to the formula to determine funding. Consequently, there were significant differences between actual funding and what the SFRA dictates.”
John Mooney | September 22, 2016
Advocates Argue All New Jersey Schools Should Offer Arts Classes
The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership points to studies that show training in music, dance, and other arts is linked to academic success
All but 3 percent of New Jersey public K-12 students have access to arts education. But the state’s arts advocates say even one student without access is too many.
“You might say, ‘So? That’s only around 113 schools in New Jersey that don’t offer classes in the arts. What does it matter?’ If you’re a student in that school it matters a heck of a lot,” says Bob Morrison, director of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP), a non-profit consortium designed to promote the arts in education.
But really, what does it matter? Isn’t it more important to prioritize reading and STEM education and test scores over flute lessons and painting in times of tight budgets and accountability? No, says Morrison, and here’s why: Every study ever conducted on the subject shows that students who take arts classes benefit in ways that include higher academic achievement and greater civic participation, he says, and his organization is spearheading a three-year campaign to spread the word.
Tara Nurin | September 22, 2016
Trenton Times--Less really is more when it comes to homework | Editorial
If your fourth-grader comes home from the Robert Mascenik School #26 in Woodbridge Township and tells you she has no homework that day – believe her.
The elementary school, one of 16 in the township, has joined the ranks of schools nationwide that have dared do the unthinkable.
Its administration has placed family time over homework time, sending the message that building strong interpersonal relationships is a better use of time than memorizing the multiplication tables or identifying the major exports of Peru – although these are certainly worth knowing.
"The most important things students can do when they go home each day are play, eat dinner with their family, engage in conversations, help with family responsibilities and chores and read by themselves or with a family member," school principal Judith Martino wrote in a letter to parents.
The administration recently announced it is instituting homework-free periods for the upcoming academic year, setting aside one free weekend each semester and barring tests and projects from coming due immediately following a school break.
Another district school, Port Reading School #9, will also take part in the experiment, putting them on the cutting edge of a movement in New Jersey and elsewhere to make away-from-school time more meaningful and less stressful for today's students.
Times of Trenton Editorial Board| September 22, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated September 22, 2016 at 7:09 AM
Philadelphia Inquirer--Camden's school test scores still lag, but some positives, too
There was some good news and more bad news in results released Wednesday for Camden students in the second year of a new standardized state test.
Nearly all schools in the struggling South Jersey district made slight progress in math and language arts on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. Students in grades three through 11 across the state took the exam last spring.
Despite the increase, the majority of Camden students in all grades failed to meet the state standard for their grade level. At the high school level, the results were grim, especially in math.
"Test scores are one of many ways we measure progress," Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said. "We have a long way still to go."
Language-arts scores for Camden's elementary- and middle-school students increased from 6.2 percent proficient last year to 10.9 percent. Math scores rose modestly, from 4.3 percent to 7.4 percent proficient.
Melanie Burney, Staff Writer |Updated: September 22, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
Education Week--Flashpoints Emerge as States Step Up ESSA Planning
Tight timelines loom as work continues
States are still moving through the gears of preparing their accountability systems and federally mandated plans under the new policy environment created by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Although a few flashpoints have already emerged, they're not the only issues that highlight the challenges states face.
The U.S. Department of Education's requirement in draft rules to have each school receive a single summative rating has led to particularly pronounced backlash in California and Kentucky. Flying in the face of those draft federal rules, California earlier this month approved a system without a summative rating for each school.
Some K-12 officials and advocates also are worried about what they see as a relatively tight timeline for identifying schools that need fundamental overhauls.
But plenty of other states are still deciding how exactly to tackle those issues, as well as others that may not be as prominent.
State leaders likely still have a good amount of time before their ESSA plans are due. The proposed regulations for state plans and accountability, released in May, would require states to turn in their plans by either March or July of next year. And those accountability regulations themselves likely won't be final until the end of this year.
By Andrew Ujifusa| September 20, 2016
Garden State Coalition of Schools